Procrastination can be one of the more crazy-making habits we can get stuck in.
It can rob us of peace of mind, and the ability to enjoy a calmer, less stressful way of life.
Procrastination can generate anxiety, decrease productivity, and create tension in our relationships.
I know this because I was a chronic procrastinator for the majority of my life.
Until my mid 20’s I put off everything from schoolwork to major life decisions to going to bed at night. In college it would take me weeks or months to finally start a project and I’d have to cram it all in at the last minute.
Even today – more than a decade after my own turnaround as a procrastinator – I find that when I am extra tired or have been thrown off my routines, the same procrastination tendencies resurface.
Fortunately, this has become the exception.
So how did I shift away from procrastination?
I’ve compiled 6 uncommon strategies I used to break-free from of procrastination. As with everything I share on this blog and in my programs – please pay attention to those strategies that resonate with you – and leave the rest behind.
How I Stopped Procrastinating
1. Focus on your energy. I was sleep deprived for years living off of sugar and caffeine. Once I started exercising, getting more sleep, and eating more whole foods I was shocked to notice how much less I procrastinated. I would encourage you not to move on to any other strategy until you you are getting more sleep. It can change everything.
2. Understand what you “get” from procrastinating. We all have good reasons for doing something AND not doing something. It was really helpful for me to see how I benefited from putting things off. When I really dug in it become obvious that procrastination kept me from having to step outside of my comfort zone. I could avoid out-right failure by not putting myself out there all the way. You will see your own patterns over time.
3. Play. I love to work. I always have. It is my comfort zone. However, I noticed when I was “on” all the time – for days, weeks, or even months – my mind and body would revolt in the form of procrastination. When I started to give myself time to be “off” and have more fun, I was able to get back to work without issue – and usually with more creativity and focus to boot. Playtime is not the antithesis of procrastination it is the antidote.
4. Notice the gap and pick a side. Thanks to my own terrific coach, I noticed the gap between what I wanted to do and the thoughts that encouraged me not to do it. For example, a thought like, “It would feel great to go for a run today” would be quickly shut down by the thought, “Why even bother? You won’t keep it up.” Learning to see that gap and consciously choosing which side to listen to was extremely helpful in getting myself moving.
5. Stop identifying as a procrastinator. For years I thought of myself as someone that procrastinated. Then it hit me that by doing so I was reinforcing my need to procrastinate. If I am someone that “puts things off”, what is my motivation to stop? In order to shift out of this way of thinking, I started to notice when I didn’t procrastinate. It was far more often than when I did. This also led me to see what specific instances triggered procrastination which I could then tackle individually.
6. Face your fears. Here’s a neat trick I played on my never-wanting-to-fail-ego: write out the worse case scenario in detail. When I am feeling really stuck on moving forward with a decision or project I will write down the awful things that will happen when I fail miserably. It is best to get really detailed. Make it as horrible as you can. Then write down how you will cope with this awful scenario. Getting these fears out of your head will give you back your power and stop them from running your life.
Are you ready for more?
I work with people who are ready to shift out of procrastination and self-sabotage and see how to make life truly work for them. If you are ready to learn more, schedule a call by clicking here or email me.